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What about Problem Based Learning?


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Note I'm asking about PROBLEM based, not project based (PBH)

 

I've been reading a bit about this, and really like the sound of it, but having a harder time finding a "problem bank" that I like.  I am starting to get tired of DIY... but I guess that's where I'll end up...

 

The idea is that there is a basic strategy for problem solving, and that internalizing those steps through problem based learning will lead to good thinking/strategy in future.  I think Problem-based Learning originated in medical school, and maybe you  might know it as case studies in some contexts.  

 

I'll try to think of a few examples...  

 

A school needs to propose a budget for their consumable items for the upcoming school year.  Help the school think through this problem and propose a budget. (The student then needs to make estimates on number of pencils, sheets of printer paper, etc.  You can name a specific school so that they can research average student body size, etc., then they would need to use web searches to find out wholesale prices, then do some math, then finally present their findings).  The point is less that the budget be reasonable (some kids might estimate 500 sheets of paper per classroom per year, some might estimate 3500... that isn't the point exactly, the point is the process) but that the student breaks down a complex problem into discrete steps and identifies what information is missing and how to find it.  

 

Another problem-based project might be that person X has become fascinated with reptiles and wants to keep one as a pet.  Walk through the process of choosing an appropriate first pet, its physical needs, the budget for purchase of pet and supplies, etc.  Then present the information- as a speech, a paper, a poster... whatever.  

 

A town wants to build much needed housing in a green belt.  Weigh the pros and cons and then write a persuasive letter to the editor of the local paper with your proposed solution.

 

I know there are also some history resources where the child is supposed to look at evidence and the law and make verdicts, or decide how to react to a historical situation, and so on.  

 

Is anyone doing any work like this?  I think ideally, at some age the child would then start to segue into real-life problems that interest them in their communities. 

 

 

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Fireworks press has two case studies that are adapted for homeschooling. They have a few others intended for classrooms with multiple children. I haven't tried them, so I don't know how they are, or what age they target.

 

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Have you seen the ones from EiE?

 

http://www.eie.org/

 

IIRC, Zombie Geography sounded very PBLish as well.

 

I find that some of the things my kids do through Destination Imagination could be termed PBL - not exactly, but closeish. I love the idea of it and I guess we've done a little here and there, but mostly I've encountered the same issue as you - it's hard to come up with and implement on your own, but the materials that I've seen are mostly geared toward schools - in fact, many rely on group work. And most of them aren't really straightforward. I can totally imagine doing this with a class where you're prepping for them and staying with them being super hands on and involved. But for a homeschool setting, where you have to juggle so many subjects and chores and life... it feels like unless someone made the materials, that it would be too much work to implement something made for the classroom or to DIY a lot of stuff. But... maybe I'm wrong. I'd love to hear if anyone has really implemented this as more than a sometimes approach.

 

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Fireworks press has two case studies that are adapted for homeschooling. They have a few others intended for classrooms with multiple children. I haven't tried them, so I don't know how they are, or what age they target.

 

Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk

 

 

I've seen these, and it's one of the things that led me down this rabbit trail!  But I don't want to spend that much money for just one unit.  I think I'd rather be looking at slightly smaller problems, but more frequently.  

 

 

Have you seen the ones from EiE?

 

http://www.eie.org/

 

IIRC, Zombie Geography sounded very PBLish as well.

 

I find that some of the things my kids do through Destination Imagination could be termed PBL - not exactly, but closeish. I love the idea of it and I guess we've done a little here and there, but mostly I've encountered the same issue as you - it's hard to come up with and implement on your own, but the materials that I've seen are mostly geared toward schools - in fact, many rely on group work. And most of them aren't really straightforward. I can totally imagine doing this with a class where you're prepping for them and staying with them being super hands on and involved. But for a homeschool setting, where you have to juggle so many subjects and chores and life... it feels like unless someone made the materials, that it would be too much work to implement something made for the classroom or to DIY a lot of stuff. But... maybe I'm wrong. I'd love to hear if anyone has really implemented this as more than a sometimes approach.

 

 

Thanks for the link!

 

Funny you should mention DI... I just purchased their Instant Challenges 8 book because I'm going to be using it for a small summer co-op I'm running.  It is also one of the things that has led me down this rabbit trail.  I've been looking through the challenges and they look SO AWESOME! but they are "instant", i.e., 5-15 minutes each.  It's perfect for a co-op with no homework and people coming in and out according to vacation schedule, and may even be perfect to use with just my kids during the school year, but I also want some longer, non-engineering, possibly not STEM projects as well.  For example, I love the Plague unit from RFP idea, but I'd like more of them for history.  

 

 

In an ideal world (ha!)- I could imagine presenting my kid(s) with one new scenario per week and have a designated problem-solving time during which he/she could research, ask questions, gather information, and then process it into his/her solution or recommendation or presentation or whatever.  

 

So we'd spend a few weeks going over the PBL method, which, as I'm reading across sites and contexts seems to be relatively well-defined, and then I'd set the kids loose and attempt to facilitate.  

 

What I'd really love are pre-made scenarios, but not with pre-made resources, as I feel handing the kid a bunch of photocopies defeats the purpose of learning WHERE to look for info and HOW to filter it.  

 

I could see rotating through history, STEM, and maybe community/society type problem scenarios, or, if the enthusiasm is there, shifting to a mornings-for-skills, afternoons for problem-solving type work system.

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It isn't as fancy, but I try to outsource as many of my real problems to the kids as possible:

 

Crap, the aquarium filter died.  I never remember how many gallons that tank is...could you please figure that out and then research filter options at Petsmart and Amazon?

 

That park date does sound fun, but I don't have a clue how to get there.  If you are interested in going, why don't you map out directions, figure out how long it will take us to get there, and write up a list of what we would need to pack.

 

etc.

 

Wendy

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Thanks for the link!

 

Funny you should mention DI... I just purchased their Instant Challenges 8 book because I'm going to be using it for a small summer co-op I'm running.  It is also one of the things that has led me down this rabbit trail.  I've been looking through the challenges and they look SO AWESOME! but they are "instant", i.e., 5-15 minutes each.  It's perfect for a co-op with no homework and people coming in and out according to vacation schedule, and may even be perfect to use with just my kids during the school year, but I also want some longer, non-engineering, possibly not STEM projects as well.  For example, I love the Plague unit from RFP idea, but I'd like more of them for history.  

 

Just FYI, my favorite free IC practice sets:

 

http://ohdi.org/images/final_practice_set_a.pdf

 

http://ohdi.org/images/practice_set_b_final.pdf

 

http://ohdi.org/images/IC_practice_set_c_final.pdf

 

There are, obviously, longer DI challenges - the central challenges. But they're even less "real" in some ways. Like, my kids' from two years ago was to research and make a play set in an historical time period that was a mystery with three possible endings (they wouldn't find out which one they would perform until the tournament while they were in the middle of performing) and would be shown on a traverse stage (with people sitting on both sides) and would have one clue that used technical methods. So... it's problem based learning figuring out how to negotiate all that, but it's not PBL per se.

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Just FYI, my favorite free IC practice sets:

 

http://ohdi.org/images/final_practice_set_a.pdf

 

http://ohdi.org/images/practice_set_b_final.pdf

 

http://ohdi.org/images/IC_practice_set_c_final.pdf

 

There are, obviously, longer DI challenges - the central challenges. But they're even less "real" in some ways. Like, my kids' from two years ago was to research and make a play set in an historical time period that was a mystery with three possible endings (they wouldn't find out which one they would perform until the tournament while they were in the middle of performing) and would be shown on a traverse stage (with people sitting on both sides) and would have one clue that used technical methods. So... it's problem based learning figuring out how to negotiate all that, but it's not PBL per se.

 

 

This is fantastic, thank you for the links!  

 

I don't think an unrealistic problem is bad... the idea is the process of organizing what we have, what we need, what we need to do to get what we need... and really the actual project is less important than internalizing ways of approaching problems.  

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It isn't as fancy, but I try to outsource as many of my real problems to the kids as possible:

 

Crap, the aquarium filter died.  I never remember how many gallons that tank is...could you please figure that out and then research filter options at Petsmart and Amazon?

 

That park date does sound fun, but I don't have a clue how to get there.  If you are interested in going, why don't you map out directions, figure out how long it will take us to get there, and write up a list of what we would need to pack.

 

etc.

 

Wendy

 

I think real, relevant problems are a great place to pull from.  

 

Grocery budget, meal plan, public transport connections... all great ideas.  

 

I think there is a financial guru who recommends gradually passing over your kids clothing budget to them entirely, and having them plot out their needs for the year with it.  I think the same person also recommends giving pocket money in a lump sum 1-2x a year so that they can budget it.  This is more for teens I think, but obviously could be adapted for younger kids.

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I'm not personally familiar with mathematical modeling contests, but you may want to keep it on your radar for when your kids approach high school.  

 

"COMAP develops curriculum materials and teacher development programs that are multidisciplinary, academically rigorous, and fun for teachers to teach and students to learn. COMAP's educational philosophy is centered around mathematical modeling: using mathematical tools to explore real-world problems."

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